Thursday, September 30, 2010

Polenta and Tomato Sauce

I mentioned in a previous post that we have a weekly menu. The menu gives the week it's culinary rhythm, by defining the central ingredient (potatoes, brown rice, cous cous, quinoa, pasta, risotto, pizza, polenta, and the lovely Sunday chicken). Being told which staple to use (or having a choice of just two staples) allows me to get some variety in our diet, feel able to cook (choice is paralyzing when you're tired), keep our grocery costs down, and feel super excited when we decide to throw caution to the wind and *gasp* eat something totally different.

Growing up, I was always really excited to know what we were eating-- Friday night was always hotdog night, and I loved preparing for it.

Anyway, with that rather lengthy introduction, here's a meal that's easy, but new to us:

Polenta and Tomato Sauce

2 cups coarse corn meal
4 cups water
1 tsp salt (optional)
parmesan (optional)

To make polenta, we just buy coarse cornmeal (we usually get the Goya brand, which is with the dry beans at Market Basket). Rather than making it on the stove, which requires stirring, I just put it in a baking pan with water and a little salt-- about 2 cups polenta to 6 cups of water. After 30 minutes at 375F, I stir in some parmesan and maybe some salt. At this point, it's a thick mush, and you could eat it like mashed potatoes.

You can also leave it to cool in the fridge overnight, into little slabs, and then put it in the frying pans in little slabs with a bit of butter. I like the consistency of the little slabs better than the mush.

For the tomato sauce, you could cook tomatoes and minced beef, or just tomatoes. I usually just add whatever vegetables I have, and saute a lot of onion to add body to the sauce. I tend to think that we get to know our own taste in tomato sauces, depending on resources.

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